Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Happiness in nature

Now that springtime has landed here, I feel much more inclined towards outdoor activities. Indeed, spring was a season I'd never much appreciated in the past; I had tended to associate it with hay fever, exams and mismatched outfits (due to the indecisive weather). But in Berlin, something's different.

After my plans for Sunday fell through, I felt restless and decided I needed to get outside. Although I'm well aware that there are inordinate amounts of things to see and do in this city, sometimes the possibilities can feel a little overwhelming - and before you know it, you've been sitting in your room for two hours contemplating this very fact.

I had been meaning to visit the Südgelände Nature Park for a while, as it's in my area. The park is just outside the Ring, right next to Priesterweg S-Bahn station. I was just looking to go for a nice walk, but it surprised me; it's definitely a mix of industrial and natural, as it used to be part of the Berlin-Anhalt railway, which was done away with in 1952.

Entrance to the park is 1€, which you pay at a machine when you enter. You could easily not pay, I guess, but in the outdoor café area there was a man going round checking people's tickets, BVG-style. It looked like the worst that could happen if you hadn't paid was just do it on the spot, though.

All in all, the addition of the tea shop plus the opportunity for cultural activities meant it reminded me quite a lot of Snape Maltings, a kind of rural arts complex in Suffolk. Interestingly enough, the Berlin Shakespeare Company puts on plays here (in German), so maybe that'll be something to check out.

Last week also marked my first May Day in Berlin, which is a huge deal - it's pretty much "Get Wasted and Pretend It's in the Name of Politics" Day - but I didn't do anything. In the evening my housemate and I went to a Biergarten (which is very different to a Kneipe, allegedly!) in Dahlem.

As evening fell, we spent a bit of time in the Grunewald - a large forest, which I definitely need to revisit in the summer and in the daylight! - and then drove back home via Charlottenburg and Kreuzberg (although we turned around at Moritzplatz because of all the police). It was pretty magical and made me nostalgic for previous summers in Berlin when I was visiting. Although I have no intention of learning to drive soon, travelling on the road certainly gives you a whole new view on a city if you've been spending all your time underneath it with strangers.

I think things are going pretty well lately. I'm content.